Reactions Matter

Just recently, my husband, teenage stepson and I traveled to see my mom and stepdad in southern Arizona over spring break. Here’s a Facebook post I crafted the day after we were set to fly out of Missoula:

Have you ever gone to the airport only to discover that your home-printed boarding passes don’t scan at the security check-point and when you go the ticket counter to have them re-printed get told that your plane has been delayed two hours, so you decide to wait rather than have the same friend who just dropped you off come back to get you, only to find that a two hour delay really means 3 1/2, and when your plane finally does come in it turns out that it was making some weird noises on the way there and has to be checked out by a mechanic who will take about an hour to drive in from town to look it over, who determines the craft is unfit for air travel and will require a second specialized mechanic who they’ll have to fly in (hopefully on a more sound jet) so your flight, which was supposed to leave at 8:00pm, gets cancelled after waiting in the airport for 5 hours? Yeah, me neither.

I had written this post as a funny commentary, but instead people clicked the tearful-faced icon under the “like” options, indicating that they were saddened on our behalf. Then, when we finally arrived in Arizona, some of my mom’s friends that we met, who had heard tale of our flight ordeal, also seemed to be mildly upset on our behalf. But the thing of it was: we weren’t negatively phased by it at all! It was other people who were bothered by our flight delay and cancellation, not us. This got me to thinking about the importance of monitoring our physical reactions to external situations that arise. It’s very easy to put our own thoughts and feelings onto other people by way of how we react when hearing certain information or news being shared. And what we don’t often realize is that our reactions can fuel unskillful results.

For example:

Katie: Gosh, I’ve had a hard day. I got a flat tire on my way to work and then I was reprimanded for something that wasn’t even my fault – and then when I got home my new puppy had made a mess of the kitchen.

Julie: Oh, that’s awful! You poor thing! What terrible news! I’m sooo sorry to hear that!

Katie: Yeah, it was a pretty bad day. I can’t wait to put it out of its misery!

There’s a common tendency, from Julie’s reaction, to not only have unskillfully validated but exacerbated Katie’s hard day, in a negative fashion. While Katie may have simply wanted to share about her hard day with a close friend, Julie’s heightened, dramatic reaction may lead to Katie feeling even worse after their interaction – as a sort of woe-is-me situation gets fostered.

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Flight Travel

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Part of me has always figured I’d make a good flight attendant. It’s the part of me that has to tuck her head in-between her knees for the 20 minutes prior to landing that has reservations. But other than the debilitating wave of vertigo and nausea that strikes me upon descent I’d be a shoe-in.

I love flying and I love people. It’s not that I love the flying itself. I love the flying experience. And it’s not so much that I love people individually but more that I love the experience of people.

As I’ve met only 1 or 2 others who don’t detest participating in metal-winged travel, I’d take great pride in being the flight attendant to help shift the collective pool of shared consciousness. The way I see it, we’ve been programmed to hate flying. And our hate spreads like the plague infecting everyone in our wake, thereby perpetuating and strengthening our cultural distaste.

The super good news is that hate isn’t the only thing that spreads. Positivity spreads, too. With my brass wings pin glinting in unison with my smile I’d win over one sour-puss traveler at a time, convincing them that enjoying the flight far exceeds loathing it, in the quality-of-life department.

As I made my way through the cabin handing out tiny, scratchy pillows, tiny plastic cups filled with 80% ice and 20% ginger ale, and tiny packets of peanuts, I’d throw in my cheery disposition free of charge, slyly coaxing others to rewrite a new internal story about what it means to partake in the awesomeness of flight travel.

P.S This post and yesterday’s post I borrowed from my writer’s facebook page, but many of my FB posts don’t travel here to my blog. If you’re interested in reading my daily musings please check out my page: https://www.facebook.com/InMindfulMotion/

Perspective

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It’s funny how wildly different one person’s idea of a bad day can be from another’s. And by “funny” I mean tragic.

This morning I read a short travel story entitled: The Flight from Hell, amid a collection in the book I’m currently reading. It would take a pile of harrowing and painful occurrences for me to even consider branding a travel experience with that honorific stamp. I’m pretty sure those hanging oxygen bags said to drop down in the event the cabin loses air pressure would need to be deployed. It might even take an unscheduled water landing for me to start pondering the merits of later telling my friends and family that I had, in fact, had the “flight from hell.”

I can only assume that the fellow who penned the story had lived a charmed life before his fateful trip from Jamaica to L.A. And perhaps his perspective had been so incredibly skewed by having never encountered real suffering that he simply had no frame of reference. I kept waiting for the hellish part to present itself. Then the story ended, leaving me still waiting. His idea of a “flight from hell” was basically the equivalent of a minor paper cut.

I’m hoping that upon discovering that his travel story is sandwiched in-between accounts of other writers having been ping-ponged over middle-eastern borders and arrested promptly in each new country, swarmed by army ants and hand-sized tarantulas falling from the ceiling, stranded at sea off the Java coast surrounded by vomit, and rafting down a river full of sewage he came to realize that his “flight from hell”, which literally amounted to sitting on the tarmac for 90 minutes at LAX and then having to wait 10 minutes for his luggage to arrive, sorta paled in comparison.